Captive Culture

For some, it’s been called The Culture Wars. For others, it’s simply life in the 21st Century. Whichever your particular point of view, unless you’re under 20 years of age, the world is quite different from the one into which you were born. At its most basic level, the phrase defines two competing ideologies or sets of values, each seeking preeminence in the public square.300357

Some observers pose the rivalry as Red States versus Blue States or Democrats versus Republicans or Progressives versus Conservatives. While each description has its merits, I prefer to think about The Culture Wars in terms less political. I think such categories hamper a clear view of the landscape and foster polarization. Continue Reading →

Imperfect Family-hood

Children are known for acting foolishly. Teenagers are notorious offenders, sometimes showing reckless regard or on other occasions failing to weigh the risks. As one example, we’ve all read the tales of teens driving and texting. Not every teen ends up slamming into a tree because of his or her poor judgment, but some do. (The statistics are sufficiently troubling.) Because children (especially teens) believe they’re invincible, they rarely spend time considering possible unintended consequences.

Since children don’t always have the maturity necessary to make good decisions, we give them the benefit of the doubt. When a child has a run-in with the law, his or her records are usually sealed and sometimes expunged after a certain period of time. Today, I’ve mused several times how different the world would look if the records of all juvenile lawbreakers were unsealed and open to public scrutiny. The media frenzy surrounding Josh Duggar’s admission of “inexcusable” behavior in his early teens is a case in point. Continue Reading →

Better To Have A Millstone

In other countries around the world, “marriage” often looks remarkably different than the celebrations we have in America. In recent days, reports from the Middle East (specifically countries where ISIS continues to gain more ground) have revealed even prepubescent girls are being married off to adult men. Other girls are being sold into sexual slavery. Either way, the situation is dire.6.00658986000024

According to Zainab Bangura, a special representative to the UN general secretary, facts on the ground reveal the disturbing and inhumane treatment of young girls who are stripped naked, exposed to “virginity tests,” and many of them are sent to “slave auctions” after their villages have been attacked, and they’ve been subjected to the “killing their husbands, fathers and brothers.” Bangura speaks of one girl who was traded off 22 times to different men. Other girls are exposed to repeated rapes and subsequent surgeries to “restore” their virginity. Continue Reading →

Two Lives . . . One Note

Now that 2015 commencement exercises are mostly completed around the country, the wedding season is definitely upon us. At least one source states April is when wedding season actually begins, while other sources consider May the beginning of the “season.” I’ve usually considered May the most common month among my friends and acquaintances.wedding-season-spring

We’ve already attended one wedding this month. It was a beautiful ceremony with the stunning bride dressed elegantly and the groom all smiles as she walked down the aisle toward him. Venue decorations were stylishly appointed and it was (in my estimation) every bit the fairy tale event a young woman imagines for her day. Continue Reading →

Adieu, Tormented Poet

Thinking this week about the death of 2004 Pulitzer Prize winning poet Franz Wright, I couldn’t help but wonder about the ways in which he was depicted through numerous obituaries. He was “troubled,” he endured many “dark years,” a man who was “celebrated and tormented,” he suffered “clinical depression” and eventually “became addicted to drugs and alcohol.” These descriptions don’t paint an encouraging picture!Franz Wright

Wright holds a unique position in the world of poetry. He was the son of another poet who also won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry! Not surprisingly, the elder Wright (James) has also been described as a tormented individual. James was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 1972. Continue Reading →

Manufactured Outrage

Over the course of many years, I’ve come to realize writers are a rather strange subgroup of the human race. I count myself in that number and readily admit my strangeness … uniqueness, that’s the term I prefer. Actually, I’ve heard it said all creative people are strange, slightly off-center. Maybe so. When I hear of the strange things other writers do, I tend to shake my head and roll my eyes. Then I go on with my life … and my writing.Place, Vanessa

Here’s one example of the strangeness I’ve observed. The Twitter profile (shown above) belongs to a woman named Vanessa Place. (Her name appears just underneath the left-side photo of actress Hattie McDaniel.) From what I’ve read, Place uses this Twitter account for the purpose of tweeting – 140 characters at a time, plus or minus – the entire text of Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Gone With the Wind. I suppose one might argue this is an artistic expression and benign protest by which she registers her disgust with the racial stereotypes portrayed in the 1936 novel. Continue Reading →

In Days Gone By

Most people, at some time or another in their lives, have known the crushing weight of aloneness … not only because their current circumstances appear bleak but also because it seems God isn’t there, His silence baffles and depresses! In Job chapter 29, the long-suffering Job laments his loneliness and yearns for previous days (verse 2) “when God watched over me.

FROM:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

Having progressed more than halfway through Job’s saga, we can begin to intuit from his remarks that he’s adjusting to his diminished state. He notes in the early verses of the chapter how God had richly blessed him … he and God had experienced a precious friendship (verse 4). Continue Reading →

Dawson Up A Creek

A student named Kevin Bruce wanted to talk with an academic advisor. Bruce, a junior at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, hoped he could get quick answers to his questions but instead found himself in the midst of a firestorm when he recorded and subsequently posted video of one advisor (Abby Dawson) accusing him of harassment. The reason for the accusation? Bruce chose to sit and wait (since he was already there) rather than return in an hour.

This situation surprises me. Insofar as I have no experience at KSU (nor any other institution of higher learning in recent years), my limited frame of reference is the university from which I graduated. Comparing my experience to what is shown on the video above is a difference of night to day! From what I recall, my professors and the associated staff members were always eager to interact with students and provide help whenever needed. As Bruce points out on the video, students are paying for this assistance! Continue Reading →

Not A Sour Note

Ever since we first viewed the 2007 film Bella, I’ve paid attention to Eduardo Verástegui and the projects with which he’s been involved. Bella tells the story of an international soccer star (José played by Verástegui) whose life takes a sharp turn that abruptly ends the man’s career. As the movie begins, he’s working as a cook in a restaurant.eduardo-verastegui-jose-in-bella-2007-wallpaper_1280x1024_20488Lest I ruin the pleasure you’d have in watching this film, I won’t provide more details. It is well worth viewing. The movie earned multiple awards and honors, and though it didn’t fare well in reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, audiences liked it well enough to reward the film with RT’s Golden Tomato award. Continue Reading →

In Chains For Christ

Two months ago, I posted about the plight of Pastor Saeed Abedini, a Christian man who has been detained in an Iranian prison while his wife and two children continue to plead for his release. When I last posted about this situation, Abedini’s wife and young son had spoken directly with President Obama, in hopes Abedini could be home in time to celebrate the boy’s birthday. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.Saeed 1

This week, the United States Senate took up the banner, calling for the immediate release of American detainees including Pastor Abedini. The 90-0 Senate vote reflected a firm resolve to keep this matter in the forefront during nuclear negotiations with Iran. Continue Reading →

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